Name: Nanuet Fire Engine Company
Date Started: 1860
Formed over 150 year's ago, the Nanuet Fire Department (F.D.) has been keeping this community safe and is still commanded by volunteers. Organized in the late 1800's by names such as J.W. Demarest, Charles E. Smith, and S. Blauvelt which are probably familiar to you because they are local street names in Nanuet.
According to the Nanuet Fire Department website these early organizers scraped together enough money to purchase their first pumper by selling subscriptions and taking a loan from a local business. Their first pumper cost a little more than $185, but it turned out to be a lemon. The crew scraped together more money and purchased a hand drawn pumper with it's own wagon.
Even back then in those early settlement days, pumpers were donned with insignias. The first picture of Indian Chief Nannewitt was displayed then and it is still the portrait on the fire truck door to this day.
The original members of the fire company appealed to the state seeking a charter and were finally recognized in 1862. The state recognized it as the Nanuet Fire Engine Company.
Fast forward a century and a half, to modern day Nanuet. The Nanuet Fire Company is still 100% volunteer, serving Nanuet and Bardonia. They have a total of about 100 active volunteers which includes life members (those who have put in 20 or more years of service). With approximately 80 volunteers who are active in responding to fires, the Nanuet Fire Company is constantly looking for more volunteers.
"We will get about 10-15 volunteers each year, but we also lose eight to ten people each year. Some of our volunteers will head off to college or find themselves moving out of the area. Then there are the older volunteers who will switch into interior positions, which cuts down on the number of volunteers actually fighting the fires," said Frank Hutton, spokesperson for the department.
Women are also encouraged to volunteer. The Nanuet F.D. has about two-three women amongst its ranks. About 5% of firefighters in Rockland County are women.
Throughout the course of history from the date of inception to the current members, they are always looking for ways to expand in terms of fire safety, training and prevention. About 25 years ago the Nanuet fire fighters appealed to the state to get funding for a training center. Eventually their lobbying paid off and the Fire Training Center in Pomona was built close to 20 years ago.
"The Fire Training Facility in Pomona is a huge asset to Rockland County. Over 250 classes are offered to all the fire departments in the county. In addition to training for new volunteers the facility offers core training for specialties such as fire brigades, hazardous materials (haz mat) and technical rescue," said Hutton.
This training provides Rockland County residents with volunteers who not only can fight fires but who can handle almost all situations.
"The training our volunteers receive is top notch. A few years ago a car hit a gas station on Route 59, breaking the gas line. The fire department was dispatched and immediately the guys went into haz mat mode. They knew exactly what needed to be done before the gas leaked into the near by stream. To look at them you would think it was chaos, but each one took immediate action preventing an even worse situation," said Hutton.
That's what they do. They prevent and save. They save lives, save houses, save communities.
At the Pomona facility the volunteer fire fighters were the first in the East Coast to use a Flash Over simulator.
"In homes today most furniture and items contain petroleum. When there is a fire it turns into a vapor. If within the first five to eight minutes during a fire if nothing happens, it is probable that a flash over will occur. This happens when the temperature reaches 1,000 degrees, the room will then ignite into a huge fireball caused by the vapor petroleum. Our fire fighters are trained to recognize when and how a flash over will most likely occur," said Hutton.
This simulator saves lives. It saves the firefighters' lives as well as the individual's life.
The Nanuet Fire Company is part of a Fire District. Taxes are used to pay for the fire department necessities such as training and equipment. But the fire company depends on donations for other needs. They hold an annual appeal for donations to help pay for things that by law the fire district can't provide. They also have a boot drive, golf outings and raffles.
These fundraisers pay for life insurance policies for its volunteers up to $25,000. It also pays for clothing, picnics that the fire company has for its families and for community events, such as, the Memorial Day picnic. The fire company opens it's doors after the ceremony to the community where they fire up the grill and serve hot dogs and hamburgers.
to the community provides a level of familiarity and is a special treat for the kids. These are good people serving our community in more ways than one.
"Fire prevention is a huge deal. Last year we provided to residents within the Nanuet Fire District, we hold open houses, we visit the schools. Educating the public on fire safety really has helped cut down on fatalities. In fact, over the past five years, we have only had about two fatalities at a fire in the county," said Hutton.
They're currently in the process of building a because the current one has been sinking and was possibly built on a swamp.
On July 3rd, the Nanuet Fire Department surrounded the high school ready and prepared to assist any problems that occurred during the town fireworks. Keeping the community safe.
As 4th of July is upon us, and there are a lot of amateurs out there playing with matches and fireworks, it is important to be careful. The firefighters are volunteers, trained and specialized but they do this out of passion, not for a paycheck. Be safe, be smart.
Next time you see one of your firefighters, thank them for their effort and dedication.
Happy Independence Day Nanuet!